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Open Access Research article

Development of an instrument to assess the impact of an enhanced experiential model on pharmacy students' learning opportunities, skills and attitudes: A retrospective comparative-experimentalist study

Rosemin Kassam1*, Gary Poole2 and John B Collins3

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

2 Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

3 Department of Educational Studies, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:17  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-17

Published: 8 April 2008

Abstract

Background

Pharmacy schools across North America have been charged to ensure their students are adequately skilled in the principles and practices of pharmaceutical care. Despite this mandate, a large percentage of students experience insufficient opportunities to practice the activities, tasks and processes essential to pharmaceutical care. The objective of this retrospective study of pharmacy students was to: (1) as "proof of concept", test the overall educational impact of an enhanced advanced pharmacy practice experiential (APPE) model on student competencies; (2) develop an instrument to measure students' and preceptors' experiences; and (3) assess the psychometric properties of the instrument.

Methods

A comparative-experimental design, using student and preceptor surveys, was used to evaluate the impact of the enhanced community-based APPE over the traditional APPE model. The study was grounded in a 5-stage learning model: (1) an enhanced learning climate leads to (2) better utilization of learning opportunities, including (3) more frequent student/patient consultation, then to (4) improved skills acquisition, thence to (5) more favorable attitudes toward pharmaceutical care practice. The intervention included a one-day preceptor workshop, a comprehensive on-site student orientation and extending the experience from two four-week experiences in different pharmacies to one eight-week in one pharmacy.

Results

The 35 student and 38 preceptor survey results favored the enhanced model; with students conducting many more patient consultations and reporting greater skills improvement. In addition, the student self-assessment suggested changes in attitudes favoring pharmaceutical care principles. Psychometric testing showed the instrument to be sensitive, valid and reliable in ascertaining differences between the enhanced and traditional arms.

Conclusion

The enhanced experiential model positively affects learning opportunities and competency acquisition, as measured by a new instrument showing sound psychometric properties.